The new sequel trilogy of Star Wars is over. Wow! What a crazy few decades of critiques and appraisals (and what a crazy few decades to come, amiright?) Fans and viewers will always be critical of films, especially something like Star Wars, that garners so much love and popularity. And sure, I have critiques of the films, but this franchise means something different to me. I can never leave watching a Star Wars film genuinely upset. When I leave, I’m not only giddy from the experience I just shared with dozens of other movie-goers, but I’m also excited to be able to text my dad, and ask him, “Have you seen the new Star Wars yet?”
Star Wars wasn’t a part of my childhood in the way it was for many other fans. I remember when I was a little girl, my dad would buy my brother Star Wars action figures, and he would tell us about the life of each figurine from the movies he loved as a child. We sat around him and handed him another one for him to tell us a story about. We learned about Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Maul before we had ever seen the movies ourselves.
After those years, me and my dad weren’t the closest. It wasn’t until when I was about 16 years old that we tried bridging the time and emotional gap in our relationship. That is how I got into Star Wars.
I’ll never forget the summer before I went off to junior year of high school. I wanted to feel closer to my dad, so I spent an entire day binging the original and prequel trilogies. I absolutely fell in love with the story, but more than that, I fell in love with the feeling of having this special world where I could connect to my dad- something we could share together. I did that with a lot of things I now love, like specific rap and rock songs from my father’s upbringing. I tried all the things I knew he loved so that I could say, “This is mine and my dad’s favorite (thing).”
I was just graduated from high school when I found out that the Star Wars franchise that I watched my father love, and that I had grown to love, was rebooting again. During that time, our relationship was on the mends, and my overall love for the franchise was like a newborn baby- it was exciting and fun, and it was my shiny, new toy.
I’ll never forget going into the theater to watch The Force Awakens for the first time. I didn’t think I’d actually get to it opening weekend, because it was so packed, but me and my best friend, Jessica, had made it to a Sunday showing- in a seat uncomfortably close to the front, but perfect nonetheless. Jessica hadn’t even ever seen a Star Wars film, but she watched it for me, so I was already in the best mood possible. I’ll never forget being in a packed theater of strangers who all share the same love when the Falcon first appeared on screen for the first time in decades, or when Han Solo and Chewie first walked onto the craft in a dramatic reappearance. The packed theater erupted in applause and exclamations of happiness. The energy never left that theater for even a second. Everyone was in a euphoric mood, and I’ll cherish that memory, because it was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. This was a major chance for me to talk to my dad about some influential characters in our lives. It was something we could both continue to be excited about, and WE DID!
That excitement only grew when The Last Jedi promotions started to roll out. With every new trailer, it was a shared moment of theories and anxiousness for what was to come. Walking into The Last Jedi was an experience all on its own. I knew I would be experiencing my first EVer (new) Luke Skywalker moments in real time- in my own time, for my generation and my dad’s generation to relate to each other through. I was in a haze most of that theater experience. Watching Luke Skywalker say new things and do new moves was mesmerizing for me. I took in every moment like I was devouring a buffet after 3 days of fasting. And I relayed it all back to my dad with utter excitement, and he did the same. We talked about the moments when we cried and what we loved most.
The new trilogies didn’t just bring me closer to my dad, but they also brought new characters for me and others to fall in love with. I enjoyed every moment with Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe, Finn, BB-8, Rose, and so many more characters. Generations before us looked up to Luke Skywalker, and new generations will continue to (my boyfriends 7 year old brother loves Luke like he just debuted last year), but new generations can now look up to Rey who is a contemporary hero, Finn who is genuinely one of a kind, Rose, and Poe who all changed the way and who Star Wars films could reach and represent.
Now it is the end of 2019, and the final film of the sequel trilogy has finally premiered. The Rise of Skywalker: I won’t forget walking into the theater thinking, this was it. This is the last moments I would be seeing my favorite characters in new stories. It was funny, because my boyfriend said, “When we leave this theater, we will leave different than when we came.” And yes, he was joking, but also, no he wasn’t joking. In a very small way we did leave the theater different. I left The Rise of Skywalker in a literal fit of tears (yes you can laugh, idc.) I was crying because I knew it was over. I wasn’t getting anymore of those giddy feelings of seeing a new story from the old and new characters I’d come to cherish. At least, not until 30 years from now when Disney pays Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac to come back, and they somehow resurrect Ben Solo for a “sequel to the sequel” trilogy. But until then, I feel like I’ve lost another new feeling that life has to offer, like after you’ve watched an amazing movie or series, and you know you’ll never get to see that for the first time again. You’re so grateful to experience it, yet so empty now that the newness of it is gone.
I did get to leave this theater and text my dad about a new Star Wars one last time though. And we complained, and we talked about what we loved, and we reminisced on the last 2 films, and we bonded over this franchise for the last time in a long time. I know there’ll be more tv shows and what-not, but I also know it won’t be this. It won’t be the bridge between my dad’s childhood and mine, but I will always have these past few years, and I am so happy.
For a movie lover, there’s almost nothing that feels as good as falling in love with a new movie and new characters, especially when those stories are carried out for a franchise, because you get to visit them over and over again in new ways. Now I’m not saying the films are perfectly made, with perfect story arcs and plots, but it was perfect for me, because it came at a perfect time in my life. It connected me to my dad, and one day, it will be something that I want to show my baby sister and my children like my dad did for me.